The 22nd-ranked Memphis Tigers continue their run towards the Conference USA title, as they take on the Marshall Thundering Herd in league action on Saturday at the Cam Henderson Center.
Josh Pastor's Tigers have quietly gone about their business this season and come into this contest with a lengthy 15-game win streak in tow. The streak includes a flawless 10-0 mark in conference play, capped off by a 93-71 blasting of UCF on Wednesday.
The Thundering Herd have long been out of the conference race. Marshall does enter off a 71-70 win over Rice on Wednesday, but the team is just 4-6 in league play, tied for seventh in the conference standings with Houston and Tulane.
Memphis holds a 12-2 advantage in the all-time series with Marshall and has won each of the last three meetings, including a narrow 73-73 decision at home on Jan. 26 in the first encounter this season.
UCF was supposed to give Memphis a run for its money, but the Tigers made light work of the Knights by shooting an impressive .585 from the floor in the game, while outrebounding UCF, 40-22. Joe Jackson led five Tigers in double figures in the win, finishing with a double-double of 21 points and 10 assists. Fellow guard Geron Johnson wasn't far behind in either category, netting 19 points and doling out eight assists. Adonis Thomas poured in 17 points in the victory, while D.J. Stephens and Chris Crawford chipped in 10 points each.
Offensive proficiency has been the norm for Memphis this year, as the team is averaging 75.0 ppg on 47.9 percent shooting. Jackson has been outstanding at the point, as both the team's top scorer (13.9 ppg) and facilitator (4.8 apg). Johnson and Thomas round out the top scoring threats on the roster with 11.1 and 10.9 ppg, respectively.
Marshall was able to deliver on 10-of-11 free throws down the stretch to squeak out a one-point victory over Rice last time out. Four of the team's five starters finished in double figures, led by Elijah Pittman's 22 points. D.D. Scarver added 17 points, while Dennis Tinnon and Nigel Spikes tacked on 11 and 10 points, respectively. DeAndre Kane only scored five points, but did dish out 10 assists in the win. Marshall was able to shoot 51.1 percent against Rice, and outrebounded the Owls, 31-25.
Marshall's shooting against Rice was a bit out of the ordinary, with the Herd shooting a rather mediocre .425 from the floor on the year. Still, there is scoring depth, with four players currently averaging double figures, led by Pittman's 15.4 ppg. Kane is the straw that stirs the drink though, as both a solid scoring option (14.3 ppg) and top-notch distributor (7.3 apg). Scarver (13.2 ppg) adds perimeter support with his team-high 57 3-pointers, while Tinnon (10.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg) is a force inside.